Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mazi Dance Fitness Centre Opens at 2nd Floor of 719 S. State

Well it looks like we have a new fitness option for those who prefer the class format.  Mazi Dance Fitness Centre ( has opened on the 2nd floor at 719 S. State:
When sisters Marisol and Ziba Sarabia first opened MaZi Dance Fitness in Wicker Park in 2009, they realized a serious need for an alternative fitness solution. It turns out they were right, and their new South Loop location is scheduled to open this month at 719 South State Street. MaZi Dance Fitness was one of the first “boutique” fitness concepts in Chicago, and although now there are dozens, Marisol Sarabia says, “Our differentiator from other boutiques is that we are a one-stop fitness shop for sculpting & cardio. Body by MaZi, is what keeps our clients coming back! Dance fitness shouldn’t be intimidating…it should be fun, challenging, and it should leave you feeling sore in places you never thought you had. We want people to feel and see results, but we also want them to feel like they’re a part of a community."
Welcome to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sloopin Message Board Available on Mobile Devices Now

Friends of Sloopin,

When we first introduced The Sloopin Message Board back in August of 2012, some commented that they couldn't access this feature on their mobile devices.  We were perplexed, frustrated and beyond annoyed.

However, as of today, you should now be able to access our message board on your mobile devices!  Hip Hip Hooray!

Sorry for the lengthy delay and thanks for your patience!

If you have any problems please email us at

Sloopin Crew

Developer CMK Plans Apartment Tower at 1333 S. Wabash

Developer Eyeing 1333 S. Wabash for Apartment Building (Image from Curbed Chicago)
Crain's reports today that:
CMK Cos. is stepping into the downtown apartment boom with one leg still knee-deep in the condo market.

The Chicago-based developer plans to build 268 apartments on the site of an aborted South Loop condominium project as it continues to chip away at a big pile of unsold condos in its own high-rise a couple blocks south of the Willis Tower.
CMK is joining the herd of developers jumping into the hot downtown apartment market, attracted by rising occupancies and record rents. The question is whether the firm will be among those to secure a construction loan for its project, a $60-million, 25-story tower at 1333 S. Wabash Ave.
The article goes on to also provide an update on two other similar plans that are much further along:
In the South Loop, Chicago-based Golub & Co. plans a long sought 392-unit tower at Ninth and State streets, while Amli Residential, also based here, is getting ready to break ground on a 398-unit apartment complex at Clark and Polk streets.
Seems like the good 'ol days in development (which we mean pre-2008).  There sure seems to be a lot of talk about new buildings going up in the neighborhood (see post this morning on British School of Chicago).

Anyway, CMK has a long history in the South Loop.  They were the developers of The Garden Terraces (1430-40 S. Michigan), 1620 South Michigan, 1720 South Michigan and Michigan Avenue Gardens (1808 S. Michigan).

Finally, we would be remissed if we didn't quickly link to two other projects that were planned for this stretch of South Wabash (granted these were boom time projects).  See old renderings below.  The first was the infamous Glashaus that was slated for 1327 S. Wabash.  Next door would have been 1349 South Wabash, a building designed by See Wong a developer active in Chinatown.

While we're not sure, it sounds like this new proposal would be for both lots?
(Hat tip: KM!)

Renderings and Notes from the 1/26 Community Meeting

Renderings of British School of Chicago's South Loop Campus (via Chicago Architecture Blog)
Last Saturday the Greater South Loop Association held a "community meeting".  Various topics were discussed and thankfully a couple friends went.

First, the Chicago Architecture Blog had a nice recap on the plans (including renderings) of the new school and parks.  Apparently CAB feels that the proposals were relatively well received by residents at the meeting:
Plans for a new campus of the British School of Chicago were shown to the public this weekend, and may have gone a long way towards assuaging neighborhood fears. 
The thoroughly greenwashed building was well received by a group of South Loop residents who saw the drawings and a presentation by architect Joseph Antunovich of Antunovich Associates at the District One police station. It will be built in the “Phase Three” section of the Roosevelt Collection (150 West Roosevelt Road), which is immediately north of the existing building.
Their post has some great info and is definitely worth a read if you're interested in the topic.

On another note, a friend of the blog was at the meeting and specifically found something else surprising at the event:
I attended the community meeting Saturday morning, so I wanted to provide an update on the British School development, as well as the proposed changes to the park we were presumed to be getting as part of the Roosevelt Collection development.
First, it's important for everyone to know that, at the behest of the city council's Zoning Committee (headed by our new/2015 Alderman, Danny Solis), all zoning changes/requests will be handled by the alderman under the 2015 ward map. Interesting to note that Ald. Solis pushed for these changes, but was NOT at this meeting. His Chief of Staff, Vicente Sanchez (, appeared toward the end of the meeting, and we were able to briefly address our concerns with him then. I will also be sending a follow-up email to him, as well as to Aldermen Solis and Fioretti (you know, the guy we actually elected to represent us). I encourage anyone that has concerns about these developments to also voice their concerns through these avenues.
As they stand, these proposals (for the school and parks) represent a departure from the planned development passed in 2007, which required a 96,000 sq ft park to be built. If you remember, this park was proposed to be built at the bottom of stairs current providing foot access to Roosevelt Collection (picture attached). As of right now, the modification for this planned development has been filed by the developer and details are being worked out. The developer said he expected a full City Council vote in the Spring, with the British School aiming for a December 2014 opening.
Personally, I am not as concerned about the school as I am about the park. We were promised, and in fact it was written into law, a 96,000 square foot public park (see attachment for original rendering). Instead, we have been given a private "open space" that advances the interests of the developer, but does little to help connect our neighborhood to this development, as was intended. I'm hoping we can send something around to owners urging them to voice any concerns and that the board will keep us updated on any future community meetings or updates on these projects.

Maybe everyone didn't receive these proposals so well!  Seems like there is still a lot of uncertainty around this whole thing.  Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

On the other hand the ward thing is pretty f'd up!  For some more background on this here is a Chicago Sun-Times article from last week discussing Alderman Solis' decision to push ahead on the new ward map.

If you went to the meeting do you have anything additional to add?  Even if you didn't, what are your thoughts?

(Hat tip: S!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nepal House Replacing Beleaguered A'Cappella Bistro at 1301 S Michigan; Shooting for Mid-February Opening

The mysterious and beleaguered A'Cappella Bistro (1301 S. Michigan) has apparently served its last meal.  We heard some whispers about this and a reader recently sent us the following email/picture:
Hey Sloopy, 
I was looking through the coupon mailer today and noticed this section shown on the Chicago Curry House coupon. Maybe this answers what's happening with Acapella at 1301 S Michigan? Anything will be better than that restaurant - I'd be excited to give this a shot. Do you know anything about this?

Well we've be highly entertained by the message board thread "Why is A'Capaella Still Open?" which has been going for some time.  Back on January 12th a reader posted a rumor that it was going to be a curry place.  Apparently this is true.

We also walked by A'Cappella last night and the place was closed.  More telling was that the entire space was going through a demo (like the ground was being torn up among other things).

The good news is that A'Cappella is apparently done.  The best news is that this new restaurant is associated with The Curry House (899 S. Plymouth Ct).  If you haven't been to this restaurant you're missing out, it's absolutely delicious.  The only question about Nepal House is whether or not the owner of A'Cappella is affiliated in some way.  The reason we wonder is because there is a hand written sign on the window talking about a new concept.  Maybe this is a partnership?

Anyway you cut this, it's a positive development in what has been one of the strangest things we've witnessed in the Sloop.  A'Cappella Bistro has perplexed us even before we lived in the Sloop.  Needless to say, it may be the end to one of the longest running inside jokes/questions/topics that residents liked to talk about.

Regardless, welcome to Nepal House!

(Hat tip: MP!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blink Lash Studio Opens at 1317 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
There seems to be another new Sloop business open to add to the list: Blink Lash Studio at 1317 S Michigan Ave. Not sure if they're officially open, yet, but when I walked past this morning they appeared to have a customer.
We saw people inside as well, so we're adding it to our business counter.  If someone has additional information please let us know.  We couldn't find much info on the interwebs.

UPDATE:  From Blink Chicago:
A friend forwarded your comment regarding Blink Lash Studio. Yes we are officially open for business! Our hours of operation are Tuesday-Friday 11am-7pm; Saturday 10am-6pm. Visit our website for more details. Thx!

(Hat tip:  ES!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Poll: Readers Optimistic for Strong Retail Scene in 2013

We tend to agree!
We will revisit at the end of the year and see where we end up.

As an FYI - we're in the 15+ camp!

Curbed Chicago Checks In at East-West Dorm and Jones College Prep Construction Sites

Image via Curbed Chicago
Not a ton of new news, but for those of you who aren't familiar with these projects they have some good historical info.  Here is the quick blurb on the East-West Dorm (Curbed Chicago):
It's been a minute since Curbed has ventured to the South Loop's prominent construction sites, East-West University's new Student Life Center in particular. Back in October 2011, as Roosevelt University's Vertical Dorm rose fast in the Loop, East-West announced their own student center/dorm building. Ground broke last winter, but the 17-story tower at 825 S Wabash has really shot skyward in the past few months. Holabird & Root's eye-catching structure will house 220 students plus an auditorium, gym, food court, and library. Beyond the facade's quirkiness the main interest lies in the labyrinthine atrium/food court.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Broad Shoulder Brewing TIF Finally Proposed?

It's been awhile since we've heard much about Broad Shoulders Brewing, the microbrewery that is planning on opening at 2337 S. Michigan.  The last thing we posted was way back in August of 2012.

Our post linked to an article from the Chicago Journal stating that the opening was being delayed until January 2013 due to permitting issues.  We also linked to a post announcing that  a city development panel approved a $628,000 TIF to with the build-out of the property.

Fast forward to now and it's January 2013 and we still haven't heard much.  We know that these things take time and often encounter bumps in the road.  However, we found it interesting/confusing that the city's website just announced that a TIF proposal for the brewery was just introduced into city council by the mayor this week.

We don't know the procedural steps in TIF's being granted, but we thought this was a done deal. Sure seems to be taking a long time.

Mayor Emanuel's quote on the TIF:
“This project will help Motor Row fulfill its role as an important link between the South Loop and the Near South Side,” Mayor Emanuel said.
Anyone got the scoop on Broad Shoulders Brewing?

My Umai Says...We're Open!

Umai Japanese Kitchen and Sushi from Polk
Last week we posted that signs were up at Umai Japanese Kitchen and Sushi (Northwest corner of Clark and Polk).  A reader commented that they heard that the restaurant was going to open on Tuesday (1/22).  Well we're not sure if that actually happened, but we can confirm that they are open.

We recently did a drive by and snapped a quick picture of the intimate space and hip decor.  It was also encouraging to see it packed.  If anyone has been there please let us know your thoughts.  We're excited to try it out soon.

Finally, for those who didn't understand our headline all we can say is we can't shake our old school hip-hop roots!  Every time we say "Umai" we naturally sing it to the tune of the 1999 Mos Def classic "Umi Says"...don't you?!?!?:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Community Update Meeting this Saturday (1/26) at 9am

For those of you interested in some topics we've covered recently, the Greater South Loop Association is holding a community meeting this Saturday (1/26) at 9am.  

Topics to be discussed include the British School of Chicago (old Sloopin post for background), the proposed "roof top" public park (old Sloopin post for background) and the Bureau Bar (old Sloopin post and message board for background). 

PianoForte Studios Moving down to 1335 S. Michigan?

Vacant building at 1335 S. Michigan that supposedly will be the new home of PianoForte Studios
A big, vacant building on South Michigan may have a new occupant if a reader on our message board is correct:
ARTS ON THE MOVE: PianoForte Studios, a piano store that does business in the Fine Arts Building at 408 S. Michigan, has purchased its own building. Represented by real estate broker DTZ, PianoForte bought an 11,000-square-foot, three-story building at 1335 S. Michigan. Property records show the building sold for $1.15 million. The store plans to be in the new space this summer.
While we're not 100% sure about the source, it's a nice development if true.  There is still a glut of buildings/space right here and it will be nice to have one of them occupied.

PianoForte's 408 N. Michigan Address
We don't know much about PianoForte Studios, but have noticed them further North on Michigan Avenue (see image on the right).  We've even commented how strange it was to have a piano store in such a prime location.

Based on what we've read they will be a good neighbor as they also have a foundation with a noble mission:  
PianoForte Foundation is dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of the piano in Chicago and creating a vibrant piano community that closely connects audiences and artists. We bring excitement and appreciation for piano music to a wide audience through high-quality concerts, festivals, competitions, education, outreach, and public broadcasts.
As a piano player and general admirer of the instrument (and all things music) it's exciting to have them move into the Sloop.  Especially since they will bring life to a stretch that isn't currently very easy on the eye.  Hopefully they can change that!

For those of you who would like more information on PianoForte, we found this video on their website from a CBS2:

(Hat tip:  South Loopr)

Jones College Prep Doubles Enrollment;
However Local Residents Seats @ High School Stay at 300

Schooling continues to be a hot topic around these parts and yesterday we read about the newest plan put forth by Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet.  Spoiler alert, it's not what most Sloopsters wanted to read (via Chicago Sun-Times registered users):
Image from Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Ignoring the wishes of many South Loop parents and their alderman, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that the old Jones College Prep High School building will not be converted to a neighborhood school but instead will double the number of students allowed to test in. 
Jones College Prep students are scheduled to move a block south in the fall into a new, $115 million building, according to Chicago Public Schools. Parents in the footprint of the selective enrollment school, 606 S. State, have asked that the existing building be renovated into a school open to any child living in the neighborhood, regardless of academic prowess. 
Instead, Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett opted to double the capacity of Jones, they said at the school Tuesday. By 2016, Jones will hold 1,700 high school students from across the city who make the academically competitive cut, with students housed in the current building and the new one. Jones has about 900 students enrolled now.
The bright side is that they're not demolishing the old Jones College Prep building.  The dark side is that it really isn't benefiting neighborhood residents.  Local residents will still only get 300 seats set aside for them, which many believe won't keep up with the changing demographics of the neighborhood.

Alderman Fioretti and local parents/residents think this will cause middle class families to leave for the burbs. We tend to agree with this theory.

What do you think about this new announcement?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Look Inside the Retro Ebony/Jet Building at 820 S. Michigan

Remember when Columbia College bought the Ebony/Jet building at 820 S. Michigan?  That was in December 2010.

WBEZ writer Lee Bey recently had a fascinating look at and in the building as well as some updates on what Columbia plans to do with the building.  Most interesting to us were the pics of the incredible interiors:
When it opened in 1972, the Ebony/Jet Building was a buttoned-down and conservative addition to south Michigan Avenue; an elegant, modernist rectangle overlooking Grant Park with the same dignity found in the magazines published in the building.
But that was the exterior. Behind pioneering black architect John Moutoussamy's four walls were offices designed with an exuberant, high-style and fearless mix of a color, texture, art, contemporary furnishings and pattern. Created by interior designers William Raiser/Arthur Elrod, the offices embodied an afrocentric modernism that was well-turned, avant garde and quite hip--a perfect match for publisher John H. Johnson's groundbreaking magazines.

Definitely worth a click at least to see the pictures of the interior.  If you're interested in the future of the building it's also worth a click.  Here is a quick highlight paragraph:
In one of the more notable modernist architectural saves in the country right now, Columbia will restore and convert the Ebony/Jet Building into the John H. & Eunice W. Johnson Center, the first seven floors of which will be a library. The college described the planned new facility as a "nimble, technologically-capable, interactive center comprising visual art, digital books, photography, and other compilations." Columbia's Center for Black Music Research will be housed there also. 
Also of note is that the sign on top of the building will be staying.

(Hat tip:  BH!)

That Was Snappy! Snap Fitness Opens at 1212 S. Michigan

We first heard about Snap Fitness coming to the South Loop in August of 2012.  Fast forward to December and new windows were being carved out on the second floor of 1212 S. Michigan.

And now, a reader on our message board has tipped us off that the Snap Fitness is officially open for business.  We also saw some people running on treadmills in the window, so we're betting that this is true.

While we haven't been over to look inside yet we plan to in the near future.

Has anyone tried out the new spot?  We assume it will be a hit with people living South of Roosevelt as options are a little limited.  Our only question is whether or not their is parking options for the gym?

If not, it may have a tough time competing with the others that do (XSport and LA Fitness).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

News Conference About the Old Jones Local High School?

Ben Joravsky, the insightful and opinionated writter from the Chicago Reader, recently had a good article about the drama surrounding the Jones College Prep debate.  As you may or may not remember, a brand new, state-of-the-art school is currently being built at the corner of Polk and State (just South of the older Jones College Prep building).  The project is moving a long and from what we can tell looks pretty good.

In the meantime, there has been a raging debate by local residents, Alderman Fioretti, CPS and other government officials on what to do with the old building.  At one point we heard it was going to be demolished.

Local residents and Alderman Fioretti would like it to be converted into a high school for local residents.  Joravsky discusses the history of the high school and where it currently stands in his article.  He also has a prediction of what may or may not happen:
Image from Chicago Reader (EILEEN MESLER)
Fioretti says he recently learned that CPS has created an internal panel to study the problem, but it doesn't include the alderman or community residents. 
Translation: CPS officials are stalling for time while the mayor figures out what to do. 
"The boundaries for a new school would go from about 35th on the south to Grand on the north, Ashland on the west, and the lake" on the east, says Fioretti. "We keep saying, 'If you build it, they will come.'" 
I predict that if Fioretti and residents apply enough pressure, the mayor will call a press conference to announce he wants to turn Jones into a neighborhood school because it's really important to keep the middle class in Chicago—like it was his idea all along. Sort of like the press conferences he's called to declare his newfound support for gay marriage, gun control, and immigrants' rights. Don't say he's not adaptable.
Which brings us to an anonymous email we got yesterday from a reader (and we're paraphrasing a little):
Alderman Bob Fioretti is hoping to hold a press conference at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting at 530 S. State Street around 6PM.  The goal is to have the old Jones High School in the background (with the assumption that the press conference is to talk about the old high school.
Hmmmm, maybe Joravsky's prediction is correct?  Or maybe this is Fioretti's attempt to bring a bigger spotlight on the issue?  We will see.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tribune Columnist on Acadia: "Wouldn't Be Surprised if He Earned Second Michelin Star"

It's the time of year when "best" lists seem to pop up (see story on best bars from last week).  Well the Chicago Tribune food columnist, Kevin Pang, has given his best of and Acadia was a highlight for him this past year.  Here is a link to the story (which includes a video and Acadia mention at 0:31).

So we're not sure if he is saying McCaskey will earn one star again in 2013 or if he is saying he wouldn't be surprised if he earns 2-stars in 2013.  Regardless, it's clear he likes what they're doing at Acadia.

We also like that he mentions "this empty grass lot" and fence next door like that has anything to with the restaurant.  As we know, the plan is for the city to convert this space into a park hopefully this year.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shots Around the Sloop: Heads-up

From Emily Belden:
380 square feet. 39,000 heads-up pennies, all glued to the floor with love by South Loop couple, Emily Belden and Ryan Lange -- owner of South Loop tattoo shop, Code of Conduct.
We launched a site about it yesterday that went viral on all social media platforms, garnering worldwide traffic:
Some sweet stats from their webpage:
  • 1873: the oldest penny used; coin features an Indian head instead of Abraham Lincoln 
  • 1944: year of the WWII 440 steel penny used because of a copper shortage 
  • 38,903: total amount of pennies used 
  • 128: total number of man-hours it took to lay pennies 
  • 2: total number of people who made the penny floor possible 
  • 184: number of reruns (see glossary) placed before grouting 
  • $972.80: total cost for the penny floor about 2.56 per square foot.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Recently on the Sloopin Message Board...

It's been awhile since we've linked to some threads on the message board so thought it was about time.  Historic car dealerships, CTA retail, liquor license objections, local schooling and urban gardening are a couple of the things discussed recently:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ald. Fioretti Racks-up $800K in Taxpayer-Funded Legal Costs

The Chicago Tribune has more of the backstory (behind it's premium pay-wall):
A single Chicago alderman exercising his traditional right to have final say on decisions in his own ward racked up taxpayer-funded legal costs of more than $800,000 in the past four years, records show. 
The tab includes legal fees and settlement payments in two federal lawsuits filed against Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, some of his colleagues and the city, as detailed in court and Law Department records. The suits challenged Fioretti's use of aldermanic privilege to stand in the way of two businesses seeking permits in his ward. 
Both businesses — the venerable Congress Plaza Hotel and the now-defunct Felony Franks hot dog stand — got their permits in the end, but only after lengthy delays they attribute to Fioretti's decisions. The city lost the case focusing on Fioretti's refusal to sign off on a sidewalk cafe permit for the Congress Hotel. 
A judge's ruling in that case for the first time acknowledged the tradition and power of aldermanic privilege, which is neither mentioned nor defined in city code. 
And the city is in the final stages of settling the case brought by Felony Franks, which centered on Fioretti's refusal to back a sign permit.
Seems like a lot of cash for two relatively minor issues.  Obviously we don't know all the details, but a sidewalk permit and an objection to a sign?  Seems like $800K could be put to use somewhere better!

The article goes on to say that the Congress Hotel dispute could be tied to his position on a labor dispute (see old Sloopin post about the longest strike in that nation).

The Felony Franks sign issue was blocked by Fioretti because churches in the area opposed the name and "glorifying crime".  The Felony Franks concept was to give jobs to ex-cons...something we didn't know and find intriguing.  Felony Franks (which was in the near west side) is now closed.  

Neighborhood and Dive Bars: Chicago Magazine and Chicagoist Weigh In

We recently stumbled upon a couple posts/articles in the press touting area wide bars.  While we wish the Sloop got more pub, it was still nice to see some local establishments get recognized.

First, Chicago Magazine has a great interactive post highlighting The 100 Best Bars in Chicago.  It's not a straight list in the traditional sense, it's broken down into categories.  The Sloop only had two spots registering on the list in the 18 Best Neighborhood Spots.  The two spots are both mainstay hospitality owned:
City Tavern The team behind Chicago Firehouse modeled this eight-month-old spot on an 18th-century New England tavern. The roaring fire in the front lounge, a long wooden bar backed by lofty mirrors, and a 14-page roster of drinks would make Sam Adams proud.
Wabash Tap The local hang has somehow resisted the rest of the South Loop’s revamping—it’s still serving beer and Tots for under $6, and the pool sharks at the back tables give a welcoming nod to every visitor.
If you're curious what else made the cut, we highly suggest checking out this nifty interactive map.

One of the categories in the Chicago Magazine article was for dive bars.  The blog, Chicagoist, didn't really agree with Chicago Magazine's definition of dive bar (not surprisingly) and decided to provide their own rebuttal to the dive bar list.  And George's Cocktail Lounge (646 S. Wabash) made the cut:
Longtime South Loop standby Cal's closed New Year's Eve but folks looking for a cheap drink, a jukebox whose selections haven't been changed in years and one last nip to go at last call only need to head a few blocks east to George's Cocktail Lounge. Located across the street from buddy Guy's Legends, this bar is popular with Columbia College students, neighborhood winos with some change to spend and newer South Loop residents looking for a final drink before sunrise and no shame as to where to find it. Pull up a seat next to a bar that's seen better days, enjoy some of the cheapest drinks downtown and waste hours people watching.
If you haven't been to George's, it is most certainly the epitome of a dive.  We've had some interesting experiences at said place (see story about Finnish man talking our ear off).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Umai Signs Appear at Northwest Corner of Clark & Polk

A reader writes about a new restaurant coming to the Northwest corner of Clark and Polk:
Hi Sloopin, 
I don't know if this has been reported but a Japanese/sushi restaurant appears to be set to open at any moment on the northwest corner of Clark & Polk. I have attached a picture of the sign posted on the door. The shades remain drawn so it's tough to get a good picture of the establishment. 
Hopefully, you'll be able to update the business counter soon. 
I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the picture and good to see things are progressing at Umai.  Last we reported, a reader mentioned in the comment section that this was coming.

(Hat tip: MR!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sketch Released of Sexual Assault Suspect

Following up on the story from last week (via Chicago Tribune): 
(Chicago Police sketch / January 15, 2013)
The attacker is described as black, between the ages of 30 and 33, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 and weighing between 165 and 185 pounds. The man had black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion. He was wearing a black ski cap with red trim and a dark-colored sweater, police said.

Eleven City Diner Expands North in Lincoln Park

Photo: courtesy Eleven City Diner
Kudos to Eleven City Diner (1112 S. Wabash) on their plans to expand up North in Lincoln Park.  They join a couple of others who have also started in the South Loop and expanded up North.

Some people have had harsh things to say about the restaurant, but we like it!  Judging by the lines on the weekends, it appears many others do as well.

Grubstreet Chicago had a recent interview with owner Brad Rubin talking about the new spot and the challenges the old-school deli model faces.  He also has a good shout-out to the Sloop and how the northern version is going to be different and why:
We're not cloning the South Loop location. We'll bring certain things over— like the subway tile, I think that's intrinsic to the brand. But the South Loop has this energy, it's a busy, hustling place. It's different here, you've got moms with strollers taking a break, families. This location will have its own identity, its own thing going on.
Good luck up North...but glad you started in the South!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

British School of Chicago Updates: Bureaucracy, Roof Parks and Public Notices

The British School of Chicago moving to the Sloop was a hot topic late last year and it appears that will continue to be in 2013.  The highly informative blog, The Chicago Architecture Blog, has a great piece called The South Loop's British (School) Invasion.

Based on their post, it sounds like there is some bureaucratic issues that need to be sorted out (SURPRISE!):
The paperwork is just starting to make its way through the bureaucracy, and is expected to have a more complicated tour of City Hall than most buildings. This is because of the redistricting of Chicago’s wards in 2012. It appears that the eastern portion of the building might be in William Burns’ Fourth Ward, while the western portion would be in Danny Solis’ 25th Ward.
The ward boundary doesn’t run down something easy like a street — it has a couple of weird angles in that area, so the school and the developers, McCaffery Roosevelt, have to wait while the city tries to figure out who’s turf is in play. That is important, of course, because of the public meetings. While CDOT and the Chicago Fire Department and other city agencies have been briefed on the school, the public has not.
Also of interest was the plans for the "roof park" which appears to be included to appease residents:
We’ve already heard from some of the neighbors who are angry before they’ve even seen the plan. They believe the school will take the place of a public park they were promised.
Looking at the original documents for the Roosevelt Collection from 2006, the neighbors are right — they were promised a park. In fact, the developer is obligated to spend $2 million building the park. However, in all of the diagrams filed with the city, the park is on the west side of the project, not on the east side. So there may be room for both. 
For what it’s worth, the building’s design appears to give the public some green space. The new school will be attached to the Roosevelt Collection structure so that a person can walk directly from the shops onto the roof of the school, which is designed to be a large garden.
I'm sure everyone wants a park (we do)...but making it inline with the retail grade at Roosevelt Collection could be a smart solution.  Probably not ideal, but interesting none-the-less.

Finally, a reader sent us a picture of a public notice sign that has been put up to make neighbors aware of this potential change (we assume).  They say they're going to have neighborhood meetings to discuss this plan...we will keep you posted as we hear more.

(Hat tip: W & CJ!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Floyd's 99 Barbershop Opens; Donna's Cafe Closes "Until Further Notice"

...And we're off an running with the 2013 business counter.  Last week it was 7-11 opening.  This weeks it was Floyd's 99 Barbershop at 27 E. Harrison.  Apparently they are offering 1/2 priced hair cuts in honor of their opening (unless the signs on the window are lying).

We've heard positive things about this place and are looking forward to trying it out.  They join another new barbershop, Sports Clips, which just opened in December of 2012 and is just across the street.  Competition for hair cuts is getting intense!

On another note, it looks like we may have our first closed business of 2013, Donna's Cafe (1255 S. State).  While we aren't sure if they're permanently closed, the sign on their window isn't encouraging:
Donna's Cafe will be closed until further notice.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

We hope this isn't the case.  While some complained about various things when Donna's initially opened in January of 2011, it seems like they found their groove (insert jazz pun here).  Their yelp reviews were solid and they had a 4 star rating.

In terms of numbers, we've added 2 businesses and lost 1, which makes it seem like we're heading in the right direction.  However, we would rather have one Donna's, then two 7-11's or Floyd's.  Hopefully this isn't a permanent thing for Donna's...stay tuned!

(Hat tip:  SY!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shots Around the Sloop: Packing Them In!

A reader writes:
Hey Sloopy, 
We saw the former flower shop's outdoor space on Michigan being used as a parking lot during a recent Bears game (Dec 16th). Who knew you could fit 25 cars in there?!
(Hat tip: VM!)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Butterfield Kitchen Coming to Roosevelt CTA Stop

Via butterfield kitchen facebook page
Thanks to a post on our message board, it appears that Butterfield Kitchen is coming to 22 E. Roosevelt.  And from what we can tell that location is actually inside the North entrance to the CTA at Roosevelt.

We've mentioned that there was space and have pondered whether or not something was coming into this location.  After some additional internet sleuthing it appears that Butterfield Market will be coming to this spot.

So what is Butterfield Kitchen?  Well according to their website, they're a catering company.  While it doesn't have a ton of information on their site, it appears they have some good looking food (as far as we can tell from their pictures).  Of more interest to us, there is also a tab dedicated to "CTA Cafes".  It doesn't offer up any additional info, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots.

Further, if you look at their Facebook page they have a picture of a build-out at a CTA stop.  They also have a post with a business license for 22 East Roosevelt and a caption reading:
And we move closer to debuting our first retail location!

If you don't believe us here is a side-by-side picture from their facebook page and a pic we shot back in 2011:

It also sounds like they've announced a similar type of CTA cafe at the Jefferson Park blue line (via nadignewspapers):
Also at the terminal, Butterfield Kitchen is set to open this summer inside the former doughnut shop inside the CTA terminal’s lobby at 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. Butterfield’s is installing a new kitchen and bakery and will offer sandwiches, salads, scones and prepared meals, which commuters can take home in the evening.
So there you have it, Butterfield Kitchen is coming to the CTA stop (not the new building just East of the CTA stop -- which we continue to hear is Jersey Mike's).  The final question is whether or not the new "drive-thru" window is for them to sell stuff.  We assume so, but only time will tell.
New "drive-thru window" under the tracks...we assume this was installed for the new Butterfield Kitchen
(Hat tip: TS & Sloop1!)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Decision on Land North of McCormick Place Drags Onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn............Yawn!

We've posted about this so many times it's almost comical (here, here, here).  But here we go again...via
A bankruptcy judge once again has deferred a decision on a disputed hotel development site next to McCormick Place, giving the property's owner until next Wednesday to come up with a feasible plan to pay off its creditors.
Judge Jack Schmetterer on Thursday told lawyers representing developers Pam Gleichman and Karl Norberg that they need to provide more solid evidence that a planned sale of the property just north of the convention hall will happen, allowing the husband-and-wife team to pay off lender CenterPoint Properties Trust, which has been trying to foreclose on the site for nearly four years.

Under a proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, a venture led by the couple would sell the property in two transactions to developers that would build two hotels there. The site has also been mentioned as a possible location for a new arena for the DePaul University basketball team. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Woman Sexually Assaulted and Husband Robbed

Be careful out there (via CBS2 Chicago):
Residents in the South Loop are being urged to be vigilant–after an armed man sexually assaulted a woman. 
The attack happened near 14th Street and Clark when a man assaulted the 56-year-old woman in her car outside her apartment. 
He then took her keys and went inside her home and robbed her husband.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1st Business Of 2013: 7-11 at State & 8th Officially Open

Ok.  It may not be the sexiest opening in the neighborhood, but it still puts us in the plus for 2013.  A new 7-11 has officially opened at the Southeast corner of State and 8th (next to Lou Malnati's and below XSport).

The 2013 Business Counter has been updated.

While some of you may yawn at this news, for some of us it means easier access to slurpees...

(Hat tip: NM!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Triumphant Return of Villain's?

An excited reader recently wrote to us about a neighborhood favorite that closed last year:
Villains bar and grill posted on their Facebook that they will be returning soon, in the South Loop but did not say when/where.
Upon further investigation on their Facebook page it's true!  We also had some inside gossip and can confirm that this is true.  As it stands now, they're reviewing the lease with the lawyers and hope to have a location announcement soon.

We were able to confirm it's going to be in the South Loop.  However, be's going to be a complete build-out.

Now let's play everyone's favorite game...Guess Where the New Villain's Will Open?

(Hat tip:  RGR!)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fine and Affordable Dinner at Acadia's Bar

The Lobster Roll on the Bar Menu at Acadia (1639 S. Wabash)
We've spent plenty of time covering Acadia and are happy to give them their props.  However, for us, consistent dinning at Acadia is tough given our lack of monetary resources (sigh).  We happily will treat ourselves every once and awhile for a special occasion, but that simply doesn't happen all the time.

If you're in the same boat as us, but still want to experience this fine establishment at a more affordable price point, we have a suggestions...check out the bar menu.

While it's not a huge menu, most of the items won't break the budget and will definitely bring a smile to your face.  Better yet, you get to experience Acadia in a more low key environment.

When we went it was a low key Sunday night.  Carlos was tending to the bar and was masterfully mixing cocktails.  We were pretty confident on what we wanted to eat (see old Sloopin post about Acadia's Lobster Roll), but had a little more uncertainty about the drinks.

We quickly put in an order for the famous Acadia Lobster Roll ($16), the Acadia Burger ($13) and asked some questions about the drink menu.  As we experienced last time we were at Acadia, the drinks are well thought out and amazingly concocted   The head bartender, Arunas, does a solid job of being creative but not at the expense of providing a tasty drink.  Anyway, we opted to start off with the Local Agent (a new seasonal drink on the menu) and the Moscow Mule (a drink that is usually on the menu).

The drinks came first and were beautiful.  The Local Agent is a vodka/gin based drink which intrigued us. Carlos gave us some background that this was inspired by the Vesper Martini.  Lovely!  It was delicate, flavorful and easy to drink.  And for those of you asking about the creativity, there was an interesting ice cube made from olives and orange peel (see image to the right).  A nice creative and functional touch.

The Moscow Mule was delightful and clearly made from natural ingredients, including Acadia's own ginger beer.  Definitely different than any mule you will find at the typical bar.

After some sips on our cocktails, we were pumped for dinner.  Not surprisingly, the presentation was top notch.  While the Lobster Roll was not huge upon first glance, but it was a solid portion (see image at the top).  As a person who doesn't love creamy dishes, I was naturally a little worried about ordering a lobster roll.  But this thing was delicious.  Chef McCaskey knows lobster, so we knew we wouldn't be disappointed -- we weren't!

I barely had time to breath as I devoured the roll.  The seasoning (chives and parpika) were delicious and the lobster was buttery and tender.  We were thinking about ordering another, but had to quell that urge.

The burger was solid.  Again, not a "man-that's-a-huge-portion", but that was to be expected.  This isn't a split your pants type of establishment.  Regardless, we were happy with the portion and more importantly the taste.  One of us attributed the great taste to the Capretta cheese on the burger..the other thought the onion bacon jam gave it the unique taste.  It also came with some potato salad and for those interested, the other saucer in the picture to the left is a spicy 1000 island dressing that we asked for on the side.

But then came the decision...get another round of drinks and some more food?  or go home?

Wanting more we decided to stay and go for round 2.  We went for an order of Mussels to share ($10), a "Gin / Tonics / Limes" drink, and a glass of Chardonnay that was recommended by Carlos based on our Mussels order.  Again everything was good in our book and we left knowing that we would be back soon.

It's definitely a different experience, but a good one.  If you're up for a low key experience that will excite your taste buds we suggest trying the bar at Acadia.  They don't take reservations, which is probably a good thing for people in the neighborhood like us!

Kudos to Chef McCaskey, Arunas, Carlos and the entire team at Acadia for providing a new way to the Acadia experience.  See you soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sport Clips Haircuts Opens at 10 E. Harrison

New Sport Clips sign with blinking "open" sign and grand opening sandwich board
Well la dee dad...that was fast.  It seems like yesterday we were contemplating why we haven't seen more movement at Sports Clips (10 E. Harrison), the new men's barber shop slated for Harrison.  Well that was mid-December.  Fast forward to December 31st when we were driving by and noticed a flashing open sign at the spot (see pic above).  Apparently it opened.

We will keep you posted on the other place to tame your mane -- Floyd's barber shop that has been progressing as well and is in close proximity just east on Harrison.

Given that it technically opened in 2012, we're updating our tracker for last year.  The net total is now back to +22 for 2012.  We have a couple other businesses that we're going to verify and then hopefully we can put this final tracker to bed for the year.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Where Should the Obama Library Go? We Got an Idea!

The Lakeside Center at McCormick Place is Underutilized - Seems like a good fit for the Obama Library
image from
Just before Christmas there was a flurry of articles talking about the quest to land the prestigious Obama Library and Museum.  The news came about due to some Bronzeville residents discussing their desire to have the Library and Museum at the old Michael Reese hospital site:
The site where Michael Reese Hospital once stood isn't much to look at, just a 37-acre swath of overgrown land in Bronzeville, behind a shoddy chain-link fence.
Developers are itching to build a casino or perhaps a sports entertainment complex on the city-owned property located in the shadows of downtown near the south lakefront. But residents of this historic African-American community have something grander in mind.

They envision a Barack Obama presidential library.
"This area tells the story of Chess Records, gospel music, blues and jazz, electrified by Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters," said Harold Lucas, president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in Bronzeville. "When people come to Chicago, that's what they want to see. They want to see the birthplace of Mr. Obama's political career."
Though Obama has not commented publicly about his plans for a library, every president since Herbert Hoover has established an archive in his home state to house papers from his White House tenure. That means the race could come down to Chicago — the city Obama most recently called home — and Honolulu — the city where he was born.
If Chicago is selected, the next hurdle would be to determine where the facility would be built. An Obama library likely would not open before the end of the decade, but already it is a hot commodity because of the prestige and economic vitality it would bring to the community.
Bronzeville would have to join other potential bidders, including the University of Chicago, the University of Hawaii and developers of the old U.S. Steel South Works site on the Southeast Side, all with decidedly more political clout, financial resources and name recognition.
This isn't the first we've heard about the library coming to Bronzeville.  Back in October of 2012, there was some whispers of this spot potentially being considered for the library among various other things.

In our opinion it seems like Hyde Park probably has the best chance of landing the Library given Obama's ties to the university and its proximity to his house.  Hawaii just doesn't make practical sense in our opinion (it ain't easy to get to).

Just for fun, we've got another high-profile suggestion.  What about the McCormick Place Lakeside Center (seen on the far left in the picture above)?  It has historical significance since it's where Obama celebrated his 2nd term victory and from what we've heard it's not being fully utilized.

Back in early December there were discussions about turning it into a data center which seems ludicrous given it's prime location on the lake.  And even further back in 2011 the Chicago Architecture Club launched a competition to brainstorm ideas about what to do with this underutilized facility.

Better yet, it would further enhance Chicago's "Museum Campus".

Obviously we have no idea if this is a possibility, but seems like a good spot to us!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

South Loop Condo Boom in 2012?

Real estate agent Eric Rojas' had a recent blog post looking at the number of sales in the South Loop for 2012.  Apparently the neighborhood saw a nice bump in 2012:
Image from Eric Rojas
770 South Loop condo units sold from January 1st to December 26th in 2012. That' up 94% over the same period in 2011. A pretty astonishing number. Many factors may have contributed...low interest rates, stabilizing condo associations, low prices for the location and compared to incomes and faster processing of short sales and foreclosures. New development completely halted after 2008. Four years later people are beginning to feel comfortable with pricing and value in the new normal.
The median price in 2012 was about $250,000 for an attached condo. Same period in 2011, the median price was about $260,000 for an attached condo.
We've always maintained that the South Loop is a desirable neighborhood for many many reasons and with time our real estate conundrum would play itself out for the positive (if you could afford to ride out the short term issues).  Given signs of improvement in the economy it's not entirely surprising to see sales up so much in 2012 especially when we're comparing it to 2011.  Anyway, the post also goes on to show the number of sales over the last 5 years:
South Loop Condo Unit Sales 2008-2012 
  • 2008 unit sales 1,127 
  • 2009 unit sales 637 
  • 2010 unit sales 568 (affected by Federal First Time Buyer stimulus) 
  • 2011 unit sales 405 
  • 2012 unit sales 770 (as of Dec 26th)

So what do you think?  Are you optimistic about your real estate?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year from Your Friends at Sloopin!

2012 was a heck of a year, but we know 2013 is going to be even better!

Wishing all our readers (and their loved ones) a healthy, happy, prosperous 2013!

Sloopin Crew